August 25 marks 400 years since slavery arrived in what would become the United States, and on Sunday the students of Bethany College Freshmen Honors Seminar are asking the community to reflect on that sad history.
At approximately 2:30 p.m., the 13 freshmen Honors students will ring the bell at Bethany Memorial Church for four minutes—one for each century. At this time, students and community members are asked to pause and remember.
On Aug. 25, 1619, more than 20 skilled workers who had been captured in Africa and forced on the English privateer ship White Lion landed on the shores of Hampton, Va., and were sold into slavery, according to the National Park Service website. The site of the ship’s docking is part of Fort Monroe National Monument, which is run by the service.
The Bethany tribute is a part of the National Day of Healing, which will feature bell-ringing events and related programs across the United States.
“With the largest percentage of students of color of any college in West Virginia, it is only fitting for us to pause with our students and remember the many contributions African-Americans have made in every facet of life across our nation,” said Debra Hull, interim director of the Bethany Honors Program.
“The Honors Seminar students, as the academic leaders in their class, are taking the initiative to learn about the 1619 Project and teach others about it.”
The 1619 Project is an initiative by the New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of American slavery’s beginning.
According to the Times website, the project “aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
Over the year, the Honors students “will be identifying and celebrating the role of African-Americans in shaping the nation and reminding others to do so as well,” Hull said.
Founded in 1840, Bethany is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of the liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.